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11-02-2012, 05:38 PM
Dennis Bonvie
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Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post

For the first paragraph, I really think it was just age and maturity with Orr. By 1970 he was otherworldly. He was still 20 years old in 1968-'69 so he hadn't quite burst out. In 1974 the writers favoured Esposito's 68 goal 145 point season for the Hart. Orr had 122 points. I really don't know why Espo won the Hart in 1974 when he and Orr had a statistical season similar to 1971 and Orr won it. Bernie Parent, not Orr, was 2nd in Hart voting as well. We can't say Orr wasn't revered or adored by the media either so I really don't know why 1974 is singled out. Not that Esposito didn't have a marvelous season either.

As for the other paragraph you have a point. Orr could have done different things to prolong his career. Is he as good as he ends up being in, say, 1971 or 1971? Who knows. But it was more of a reckless style with Orr too. It has been often said of him that he went "where angels feared to tread". The corners, or carrying the puck end to end and being a target. Even the 1976 Canada Cup. That really put a dagger on his career even if it was on the decline as it was. Maybe Orr plays well into the 1980s if he learns to pace himself better. Or.............maybe he's Sergei Fedorov. Yes, Fedorov had a long career but took many years off in the regular season which hurts him on an all-time ranking. Could we have seen a better Fedorov? I think so. But which version is better, the one who paces himself or the one who goes full throttle and is done by 28?

To me it is just another example of how hockey sense is the most important quality in the NHL. Gretzky played 20 seasons and never took his foot off the pedal. He'd have a 6 point game and then gun for 7 the next one. But he also knew he wasn't a big man and tried not to take a physical toll on his body. We all know Orr had hockey sense, but I just think there are times when he ignored it when it might have saved him.

But even then, let's look at the big 4 here. Take their best seasons in NHL history. Howe in 1952 or 1953. Lemieux anywhere from 1989 to 1993. Orr would probably be 1971 or 1972. Gretzky in 1985 or 1986. Let's just take Orr and Gretzky for a second and compare them. Forget about the second best peer in the NHL at that time and how much further they were away from them. Just look at their best seasons. Orr in 1971 and Gretzky in 1986. If you want to say Orr was equal I can live with that. But personally I don't see how Orr can surpass the Great One at his absolute peak either. We're talking about a guy who had 163 assists in a season. Can you say with absolute confidence that the best we saw of Orr was superior to the best we saw of Gretzky?
No, I don't say anything with absolute confidence.

But from what I saw, I think Orr was the better hockey player, which includes playing at both ends of the ice, with or without the puck. Orr also had a physical element to his game, he hit and got hit and he took care of himself.

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